Due to a decrease in state funding, Hutto ISD is projecting a $1.2 million shortfall going into the 2012–13 school year. School board members began discussing the budget at a Jan. 12 regular meeting and scheduled a workshop for Jan. 24 to examine budget cuts.

School staff met in November to develop a list of possible cuts and additional revenue sources, and the district will consider those in more detail in the coming months. Public input meetings will probably be held in February and March, Superintendent Doug Killian said.

"We haven't made any decisions yet," he said.

The district had held a tax ratification election in November to raise the operating and maintenance portion of the tax rate by 6 cents. Although the TRE failed, Public Information Office Emily Boswell said the district could go to the voters again in September for another tax increase.

Student enrollment is 5,655, and the district is projecting 5,879 students in the fall, a 4 percent growth rate. Hutto ISD is considered a fast-growth district and has grown by about 5 percent in the past two years, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Ed Ramos said.

Killian said possible cuts identified by staff included cutting out electives at the middle school level, reducing the supply budgets at elementary campuses, charging for transportation and cutting or restructuring Hutto's participation in Legacy Early College High School, a campus located in Taylor that is a partnership between the East Williamson County Higher Education Center, Taylor ISD and Hutto ISD.

Three parents spoke during the public comment period Jan. 12 and expressed their concern that the Legacy program would be cut.

Larry Tipperreiter, whose daughter is a junior at the school, said the Legacy fits with the district's goals and is focused on developing children's futures. He said the students were asked for a four-year commitment when they the started attending Legacy.

"We promised them that opportunity," he said. "What message are we sending them if we yank that rug out from under them now?"

Killian said that, by contract, the district is obligated to allow this year's juniors to finish the program, although next year's program could be different. The district spends about $50,000 annually in transporting students to the Legacy campus and $500,000 total for the program. He said one possibility would be to hold the classes in Hutto next year.

Kadett Derry has one son who graduated from Legacy and another who is currently in the school. He said he has a petition with more than 150 signatures from people who want to keep Legacy.

"[There are] signatures even from people whose kids are not in the program, but they believe in the program," he said.

School Board President Doug Gaul said the board would examine possible budget cuts in more detail at the Jan. 24 meeting.